On 6th November the Institution of Engineers of Kenya {IEK} held a Luncheon at Sarova Panafric, Nairobi. The Guest Speaker was Eng. M S M Kamau- Cabinet Secretary, Transport & Infrastructure and the theme being “Opportunities for Local Engineers in Modernization of Infrastructure”.


This is a timely initiative by the institution with more to come. After preliminaries, giving awards to outstanding members and sharing a meal the guest speaker took to the center stage, and when he delivered his message; it was abundant with insight.

He started by reminding IEK members of the importance of the engineers bill 2011 and the impact it will have for engineers when enacted fully. He said honorable Franklin Bett the former minister of roads should be honored for his passionate role in having the bill sail through parliament.

‘Your space will never ever be given to, you have to claim it’ the guest speaker asserted. ‘Because all of us engineers are taught always to make reasonable assumptions in engineering matters, we should make the same when dealing with non-engineering issues’. He however reminded engineers that the world is full of unreasonable people.  Engineers should learn to negotiate while making reasonable assumptions.

Marine transport

‘If you want to know what transport can do for a country you need to look at Dubai and Singapore, Dubai in terms of the seaport and how much business in brings for them’ Eng. Kamau said. Dubai manages 67 ports being the largest transshipment port in the world. They have a huge logistic centre to handle the massive transportation activities in the ports. Because of its marine transport industry, Dubai deals in vehicles, spares parts, heavy machinery and has a big auction for construction equipment.

‘What did Vasco da Gama see in the Kenyan coast to build fort Jesus here and nowhere else? What is it that we can do with the port of Mombasa? What is it that we have not done with the port of Mombasa?’  He asked rhetorically.  He said there is need to re ignite the dominance of the Kenyan port.  The government has started investing in ports at Mombasa and Lamu and engineers should invest on industries that revolve around the port. This includes repairing containers and maintenance of ships, logistics centers to handle the massive cargo. South Sudan, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda depend on Kenya for handling their cargo.

Air transport

He added that there will also be more traffic going through Jomo Kenyatta international airport with the construction and opening of the new terminus.  This brings with it opportunities not only in the construction of the infrastructure to handle the millions of passengers but also aircraft maintenance industry.

Railway transport

He reminded the Engineers that on 17th of November, the government is set to start the construction of the standard gauge railways. The energy alone need for the railways will be 1200 MW bearing in mind that the current installed capacity in Kenya is only 1570 MW, Engineers have the responsibility to bridge the deficit. The railways will need maintenance once constructed; Engineers should be braced for it. The rolling stock will also require private investors. He encouraged engineers to get together and invest in the rolling stock.

Electrical energy

He also said that there will be massive need for energy to maintain all the industries that Kenya is setting in place. The railway system, the pipelines and refineries will be massive consumers of energy. Towards vision 2030 we have to produce up to 19000MW of energy. There are also opportunities in the green energy sector with projects like the Lake Turkana wind power production set to produce 300MW. 


On mining he urged engineers to reflect why the president gave it a fully fledged ministry. With the discovery and exploitation of new mineral resources in the country new opportunities arise. These include the actual mining, processing and transportation of the minerals. The oil discoveries will bring the need to set up and maintain pipelines and refineries. There will be opportunities for use and handling of the coal from the Mui basin. More minerals have also been discovered in Kwale and elsewhere in the country. Engineers play a major role in these projects.


He implored the Engineers to get ready for the irrigation opportunities that come with the government’s initiative to irrigate one million acres in the Turkana basin. There will also be opportunities in the food processing industry that will be stimulated by the yield from the irrigation. Setting up the infrastructure like canals and maintenance of it will also require Engineers.

Housing and property development

He also added that with the ever increasing population and the traffic expected from the marine and air transport there is need to develop proper housing and other facilities like lodges and hotels. He urged engineers to get in groups and invest akin to what the doctors are currently doing.

As a closing remark Engineer Kamau said he appreciated the former President Kibaki for his vision in initiating the massive infrastructure and transportation projects like LAPSSET, roads and railways. After visiting Dubai and experiencing what transport and infrastructure development has done to that country; the vision is much clearer to him.


ENG. MICHAEL S. M. KAMAU; Cabinet Secretary Transport and infrastructure  

Engineer Kamau was born in 1958. He is married with two children and has been in the Civil Service since 1981. He was seconded to Moi University in Eldoret for seven years between 1990 – 1998

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Nairobi, Master of Science in Engineering from the University of New Castle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. He has received extensive training in the field of engineering and management both locally and internationally. He is registered as a Professional Consulting Engineer by Engineers Board of Kenya. He is a fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya and also a fellow of the Kenya Institute of Management. He is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He has been a Permanent Secretary since October, 2007 and a key architect in the infrastructure upgrade in the last 10 years.


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